[Review] The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Pages: 319 (Hardcover)

Summary
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she’s ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.


Review

Let me tell you what makes The False Princess great. 

Number one, it’s the concept – a mixture of both fairy tale and historical fiction. The book is about Nalia who is told that she is actually not a princess. She’s a decoy to protect the real princess. Nalia’s original name is revealed to be Sinda. She’s kicked out of the castle on the same day the real princess comes back, goes to live with her bitter, scornful, newfound aunt and lives a simple life full of hard work. On the bright side, there she discovers that she has magic. Then she goes to Vivaskari – I think it’s a big city near the castle. I don’t really understand – to train her magic and BOOM. More dark secrets are revealed. Journey awaits her. You can say that Sinda’s is the kingdom last hope against evil.

As for number two is the plot. It’s fast-paced, full of mysteries and secrets secrets secrets. Number three, the romance is nicely done. I thought there was a love triangle between Sinda, Kiernan and Tyr, but I was wrong. I loved how Sinda reacts after she knows the truth behind Tyr’s kindness.

There are also things that I didn’t like in The False Princess. The main character, though mostly likeable, she could be annoying too. Sometimes she is too selfish and self-centered that she doesn’t care for the other’s safety. She actually has a point for doing that but I just didn’t think it’s the right action. While for Kiernan, I liked the way he becomes Sinda’s pillar of support even though they occasionally fights. And while reading this, somehow I got confused and had to re-read a few pages just to get a better grasp of the story.

Lately, I’ve been reading more English books and I usually don’t mind reading translation books. Probably the reason behind my confusion is because I read the book in Indonesian translation. Well, maybe I already got accustomed to reading English. Since I read the translation, there’s no way I could comment the author’s writing properly.

Overall, The False Princess is a good read with fairy-tale-ish and historical-fiction-ish elements. If you’re a fan of YA historical fiction, then maybe you’ll like it better than I did.


Rating:
3 Chocolate Cakes!

[Review] Belles by Jen Calonita

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 356 (Hardcover)

Summary
Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.





Review
Oh. My. Gosh. Belles was awesome! Awesome! Honestly I prefer first-person-POV, but once I had adapted to third-person-POV, this book became so engrossing. The book switches POV between Izzie and Mira, which let us get to know both girls. The sentences just flow and I enjoyed the writing very much. I think the author has chosen the words well and I actually shed tears at heartbreaking moments.

I could relate with the characters easily, especially with Izzie. Her character felt real and I was rooting for her for the entire book through the happy and sad moments. Mira took a while for me – she’s too submissive when it comes to her friends, but gradually I began to understand her more and at the end I liked her too. I was glad that eventually, she learns to trust and accept Izzie in her life – even stands up for Izzie. Hayden is a kind brother and he always tries to encourage Izzie when she feels bad about herself. I loved these characters. They are not perfect, but they seem real and every breakdown they have only makes them even more realistic.

Let’s not forget about the romance. Yes. Well, I think it’s too predictable that Brayden is Izzie’s love interest. But that didn’t stop me from being curious about how their relationship would turn out.

The plot is in fact very common among YA books but it managed to keep me wondering what would happen next. School’s Queen Bee torturing the lower classes with a sprinkle of family issue, full of drama and not to forget well-concluded ending. The author practically closes Belles perfectly, but with a little hint of the next book. Recommended.


Quote:

“I want someone who builds people up, not tears them down. I need someone who makes me laugh and isn’t afraid to rib me when I’m being a royal jerk.” She smiled a little. “You’re that girl. I want to be with you, and I want everyone to know it.”

Rating:

5 mouth-watering cakes!


[Review] Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 328 (Hardcover)

Summary

Gretchen may have known she was a descendant of Medusa long before her sisters–after all, she’s spent her life fighting the monsters that escape the abyss–but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to teach the other girls the ropes. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments on her plate and precious little time to train in her newfound powers. But that wretched second sight won’t leave her alone, and her fabled heritage seems to be creeping into her fashionable life.

Grace has worries closer to home–like why her brother, Thane, has disappeared. He’s hiding something. Could it possibly be related to the secret heritage the triplets share?

With the warring factions among the gods of Olympus coming for them, the creatures of the abyss pushing into their world, and the boys in their lives keeping secrets at every turn, the three girls must figure out where their fate will take them and how to embrace the shadows of their legacy.




Review

Sweet Shadows takes off directly after Sweet Venom. Unlike Sweet Venom, I actually enjoyed reading this from the beginning. Everything is more intense here than the first book. I still like the monster-fighting scenes, btw. As expected, the book is written in Grace, Greer and Gretchen POVs. Their voices are clear and different – I could easily recognize them. And Nick, who I thought was very annoying and too persistent in the first book, grew on me and I started to like him. Though the fact that he plays important role in this series is predictable since the first book. 

There’s more romance in this book. I’m fine with Gretchen and Nick pairing. I’m slightly okay with Grace and Milo pairing. Though I have to admit that I felt Grace is trying to be not herself, pretending to act cool and so on when she’s with Milo since the first book.

And there’s Thane. I fell in love with his character instantly when he first appears in Sweet Venom. I mean, who doesn’t love mysterious boys? I really want to know more about him! He doesn’t get much scenes in this book, but I’m sure he will get a lot more in the third book.


Overall, Sweet Shadows is full of action, mysteries to unravel and if you like Percy Jackson series or Tera Lynn Childs’s Oh.My.Gods series, then maybe this is the right book for you! 

Rating:

4 Chocolate Cakes

Why four cakes?

Well, I love this book very much but why I give this book 4 rating instead of 5? The reason is because I felt that something is missing in this book. But I’m not sure what. I just felt it bugging me after I finished reading this book.

[Review] Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 345 (Hardcover)

Summary

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.



Review

The beginning seems very slow. I couldn’t concentrate with it, well, mainly cause my mom set the TV volume really loud that I got kind of distracted. The pacing doesn’t get any faster until a quarter of the book. Other than that, the story was enjoyable for me and I was literally eating my late-breakfast while reading it. (That’s why I finished my breakfast so slow!)

Sweet Venom is narrated by the Gorgons-descendant-triplets Gretchen, Grace and Greer. I could distinguish their voice easily and the author has written their POVs well. Greer doesn’t appear until half of the book though. At first I didn’t like Grace, but gradually she grew on me because she has the spirit and doesn’t give up easily even though the other sisters decide to be alone instead of hunting monsters together.

I like the concept. (Well, I’m a Greek mythology fan!) I mean, usually Medusa and her sisters are described as evil, snake-haired girls, whose eyes can turn people to stone. Instead, here they’re the guardians, protecting human from monsters and harmless eyes that can hypnotize for a short period of time. Sweet Venom is all about the reunion between long-lost sisters who eventually decide to stick together. By the way, I love the monster-fighting scenes and I think the author portrays them well.

Besides the triplets, I also love the secondary characters like Milo, Grace’s mom and especially Thane! His quite and mysterious attitude makes me wanna know more about him and I hope we get to know what happens to him in the next book.

The next book? Of course I’m going to read it! Overall, Sweet Venom is a great first book of a series. I recommend it for all Greek mythology lover.


Rating:

4 Chocolate Cakes!


[Review] Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

Summary
When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad’s whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she’s Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she’s the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she’s got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she’s ever seen.

But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she’s offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn’t as simple as you think.





Review
Don’t You Wish easily becomes one of my favorite contemporary books that I will never forget. I like it when a book exceeds my expectations. Seriously, I didn’t think that possible. I thought that this was gonna be another common contemporary that maybe I could like, but certainly wouldn’t make it to my favorite list. Well, I was wrong. TOTALLY WRONG. 

I love everything about this book. The story somehow reminds me of Before I Fall, except I definitely wasn’t bored. The writing is simple, but it managed to hook me and make me interested in it from the beginning. I love the way Annie brings change to Ayla’s life. Surely popularity and perfection have their prices ― the message that Roxanne St. Claire tries to deliver is clear and it got me right in the heart.

Despite the fact that she’s stuck in Ayla’s life (which she has been craving for), Annie stays true to herself. I found myself relating to her easily – regretting my decisions, wishing something hadn’t happened. But when she has the chance to live a luxurious life full of popularity and money yet also fake friends and wrecked family, she realizes that “this life” is not as perfect as it seems. I adore her and what I learned from her is: be grateful for anything in your life even though it’s not flawless, because you never know that it’s perfect until you lose it.

And there’s this sweet, sweet guy named Charlie who helps Annie to realize that the inside is always more important that the outside. I really love this guy. He’s an outcast and used to be homeless, but he cares a lot about his family, especially his wheel-chaired sister. 

Don’t You Wish is an amazing read and well-written, with valuable messages and perfect ending. Remember, be careful what you wish for…

Rating:

5 Chocolate Cakes